The Swiss in a few days will give the World, including the best representative democracies, another lesson in democracy, this time they will do it at the local level

In the Congress of Vienna (1815), the Jura region of Switzerland became part of the Canton of Bern.

Many residents of the region did not like it because most people in the Jura region of the Canton of Bern speak French and are Catholics; in the Canton of Bern most people speak German and are Protestants.

Many French-speakers who did not want to be part of the Canton of Bern started, in the late 40s and 50s, a campaign to become a new canton. They even committed some arson, one person died, to bring attention to their cause.

In Switzerland, each canton has its own constitution. In the Canton of Bern, its constitution had no provisions for part of the canton to split and become a new canton.

The government of the Canton of Bern felt the people should decide. No doubt they came to this conclusion because in Switzerland’s direct democracy, politicians know the will of the people is the foundational stone of their society.

In Switzerland, the Constitution continuously reflects the will of the people. There is no “sacred” constitution that the people can not change, or that only can be interpreted by the “high priests” of the supreme court of constitutional court of the country, as it happens in representative democracies. In Switzerland, the “fathers of the constitution” are the people themselves; they directly exert their right and power whenever they decide to.

But there was a problem; in the 60s the Swiss constitution had no provision to create new cantons, unless the constitution of a canton had some legal provision to make that possible.

Bern did what to the Swiss is obvious; let the people decide, hold a binding referendum to change the constitution of the canton and allow for secession of the Jura region if the people of the Jura so decided. Nothing can be more democratic.

As you know, in representative democracies, what they did in Bern is a no-no; no way Canada, Spain, France, the US, is a no-no. In Canada, no way an English-speaking area would be allowed to separate from Quebec, and no way a French-speaking population would be allowed to create another province out of New Brunswick.

The same goes for the other representative democracies. For example, in Spain, the Catalan separatists love the idea of divorcing from Spain, but do not dare suggesting Spanish-speaking areas of Barcelona should form another region, or join neighbouring Aragon or Valencia.

In the Basque area, for far less, the separatists will shoot you, or look the other way if you are shot at.

France, Brittany, Corsica are much the same as Spain.

But in Switzerland the people of the canton of Bern voted and decided, by a vast majority (87%), that the people of Jura would have the right to secede.

It makes perfect sense; if husband and wife can divorce without violence, so should people and territories

This was the process:

The first step was to have the voters in the Jura region of the Canton of Bern, vote to find out if the majority wanted to become a new canton.

If the result showed the majority wanted to secede, another vote would take place at the district levels (districts are larger than municipalities).

If most districts voted to form the new Canton of Jura, the districts who voted against that would vote gain to decide if they wanted to go or to remain.

Likewise, if most districts rejected becoming a new canton, the cantons voting to secede would vote again to decide if they wanted to leave or remain.

But the Swiss went further; they consider how voters in municipalities, and even villages, felt about secession; the municipalities bordering on districts that separated of seceded would vote again to decide if they wanted to leave or remain.

In 1979; after several popular referendums, including a Swiss national referendum, part of the French-speaking Catholics of the Canton of Bern created the new Canton of Jura.

But this did not settle the issue; some French-speaking catholic areas who remained within the Canton of Bern, later on decided they wanted to secede too.

One such town is Moutier; 7000 residents. They held a referendum to leave Bern and join the Canton of Jura. The side who wanted to leave won. Unfortunately, some irregularities invalidated vote.

But the Swiss do not rush important issues; it is now, in March 2021, that the people of Moutier will vote again to decide if they will leave the Canton of Bern and join the Canton of Jura.

Can the people your country at the local, district, canton and national levels decide their fate like the people of Switzerland can? I am sure they can not, but they should be able to. It is time for direct democracy.

Direct democracy is about the people themselves deciding the issues on their present and future. Because in representative democracies the people only vote, they can not decide issues, representative democracies are not real democracies.

That does not mean many are not happy with them, but more will be happier, more satisfied, and the country will be a better country if they turn to direct democracy.

Victor Lopez

Another decisive positive effect of direct democracy

Direct democracy has many advantages over representative democracy, one of them is that it foster rational debate centered on the issues; it dampens the political “fireworks”.

In representative democracies it is different; we have passionate, often not rationality, demagoguery, in debates about any serious issue (sometimes even about frivolous issues) in our parliaments and also in the media.

But we have those red-hot debates for one reason; parliament and the media are the forums where elected politicians want to establish their credentials for the next election in the eyes of the voters. They are more interested in looking good, and making rivals look bad, than in resolving the issues that affect the lives of citizens.

Politicians in representative democracies are obsessed with beating rivals; they do all they can to make themselves look good and make the other parties look as terrible as possible. In a direct democracy, politicians also want to beat rivals, but the fight is not bitter for two reasons; in a direct democracy politicians have far less power, theres is less to fight over, they also know they have to cooperate with rivals to obtain the support of the majority of the people, because the people can stop them from doing anything, of force them to do things the politicians do not want to do; it is harder to co-operate with a bitter enemy.

In a representative democracy, the party in power wants to convince voters the parties in the opposition are a band of incompetents, dreamers, selfish, unprincipled people, interested only in themselves and in those lobbies and pressure groups who help them get elected. The parties in the opposition do the same to the party in power.

In representative democracies, politicians of rival parties collaborate only if refusing to would make the parties look bad. Often, they get so polarized that they can not bring themselves to collaborate even if both look bad. This is one of the reasons why the reputation of politicians in representative democracies steadily drops.

Representative democracy pushes politicians of all parties to fight bitterly because in such system, the politicians in government and in the opposition, together, hold all the political power; outside elections, in representative democracies the people have zero power to decide issues.

The heated atmosphere created by the politicians and the media also contaminates voters; voters become polarized.  At the same time, in representative democracies, the people become more disillusioned with politicians.

This is where direct democracy comes in to fix things; direct democracy acts as oil poured over the waves; it calms politics.

But, how does it happen?

It is quite simple; in a direct democracy the key power, all the decisive power, does not lie with the elected representatives, the political parties, the media or the lobbies and pressure groups, it lies with the voters because the voters decide the issues.

The politicians know this, the media know it and the lobbies and pressure groups know it too.

This shift in power lowers the political temperature of debates in parliament and in the media.

In a direct democracy, the voter decides issues, ordinary citizens care about the issues, not the fireworks. Politicians in a direct democracy know that at the end of the day the people have the decisive power. This stimulates politicians to cooperate, to develop policies, regulations and laws that will be supported by the majority of citizens, otherwise what the politicians want to do will be rejected. In a direct democracy, politicians have to cooperate, negotiate, give and take to satisfy the majority of voters, not just their own voters.

Direct democracy pushes politicians to the center, representative democracy polarizes politicians, and voters.

In a direct democracy, the voters can stop the politicians from passing a law, a policy or a treaty. This is because the people, with a relatively small number of signatures, in the range of 1% of eligible voters, can force a referendum.

Not only that, the results of the referendum are binding for the politicians. In a direct democracy, not even an unanimous decision by all political parties can stop the people from holding a referendum, neither can they ignore the results.

In a direct democracy the people can take the initiative even to change the constitution.

Even the highest court in the land can not stop or overturn, in a direct democracy, the results of a popular referendum.

Also, because the voters, the ordinary citizens, are interested in the issues that concern them, not in the “fireworks”, the atmosphere around popular referendums is far more calm an rational than the atmosphere in the parliaments nd the media of representative democracies. You only have to follow what happens in Switzerland to se that.

If you want to bring to your country the advantages of direct democracy, and perhaps even pull ahead of Switzerland, you will have to fight for a reset of representative “democracy” (which is not really democracy) to become a direct democracy and reap its political, economic and social benefits. Now is the time; the crisis is a great opportunity!

Victor Lopez


Swiss voters decide issues today. Let our peoples decide! Direct democracy could happen in our countries too… if we push for it peacefully and insistently.

Today, the Swiss, again, demonstrated to the entire world how direct democracy works.

They also showed that direct democracy is real democracy. Compared to direct democracy, the representative democracy we have in other countries is not real democracy.

Representative democracy is a far more humane and overall a far better system to develop society than all other creepy regimes like totalitarian or authoritarian elites, one party, one person or one religion systems, but it is not real democracy.

Such regimes should not exist because their mere existence daily violates the human rights of all citizens, even of those who support such regimes, because they can not change their minds.

But let us go back to the Swiss because we can learn democracy from them.

Today the Swiss decided on many issues in their towns, cities, cantons (like states or provinces) and at the national level, but I will focus on what they decided on three national votes.

They voted on covering the face in public places (motivated by the burka and by security), on a commercial treaty with Indonesia, and also on digital ID.

On covering the face in public places, it looks like the initiative to ban covering the face has won. As of the early afternoon of March 7th, the initiative has the support of 53.49% of the voters. 50.92% of eligible voters are taking part.

You can follow it live with the phone app Voteinfo.

Many critics of direct democracy say that direct democracy does not work very well because in Switzerland, voter participation is not very high. Here 50.92%, so far, of eligible voters are voting, the rest decided they have better things to do.

In national elections, voter turnout can be even lower; for example, in 2019, 45% of eligible voters voted, the majority decided not to vote.

But to say direct democracy does not work because of low voter turn out is like saying that people not use the car to go to work because “cars do not work as transportation”. It is irrational to conclude that; people may not be using their cars to go to work for many reasons, even if they value their cars and will never consider not having a car.

The may not be using the car because they ride with friends or co-workers to save money or pollute less, or because parking at work is too expensive, or because by not driving to work they save on insurance, or many other reasons.

This means that to conclude voter turnout in Switzerland is low because they are disillusioned with direct democracy makes no sense either.

Swiss are happy with their system. Surveys show 85% of the people are happy with the system; go and check how many in your country are happy with the way your representative democracy is working…

Others suggest the “complicated” Swiss system causes low voter turnout. We know it is not so because when the issue interests them, up to 70% go and vote.

Low turn out can be explained by other causes.

For example, many Swiss voters may not care if people cover their faces in public or not, the issue does not interest them too much. It is logical many Swiss may not be interested in voting about face covering. In Switzerland, a country of 8.5 million people, only one hundred thousand signatures are necessary to put the issue of face covering to a national referendum. The issue may interest an important minority a lot, but it does not mean most people are interested.

It is also quite possible that voter turnout in referendums if relatively low because in the Swiss direct democracy, the people vote on many individual issues; it is unlikely one single issue will interest an overwhelming majority of citizens.

Another reason for low voter turnout in Swiss elections, not in referendums, is that Swiss politicians have much less political power than politicians in representative democracies. In Switzerland the decisive political power lies outside the executive and outside parliament, it lies with the people. This means it is not so important who gets elected.

In representative democracies it very different; the people do not decide issues and they have only one chance to decide, and only every several years; who will be the party and the politicians exercising all political power; they should turn out in huge numbers, but in many countries they do not because they no longer believe representative democracy is working.

In representative democracies all political power lies with the executive, and the legislative, which also includes the power of the opposition. In representative democracies, outside elections, the people have zero formal political power; they can not decide anything, certainly they can not decide the political agenda, the Swiss can and do.

On the other two issues Swiss voters decide today; digital ID and the treaty with Indonesia, it looks like the people will reject to be identified digitally but will support the treaty with Indonesia. I wonder if those who oppose the treaty with Indonesia because of non-sustainable oil plantations will also get the signatures to oppose trading with China and other places for far more serious reasons…

Anyway, it is time for direct democracy wherever you are.

In a direct democracy voters will decide and the politicians will obey the decisions of the people. In a representative democracy it is the other way around; the politicians decide and voters obey their decisions. Voters pay the salaries and sustain the whole country, voters should decide issues, not those voter pay to serve them.

The evolution towards direct democracy is the logical next step, but the politicians will resist it because they know they will lose much of their power. Swiss politicians resisted too, when Switzerland was still a representative democracy, they did not want direct democracy either; they only relented when the people pushed, and pushed, and pushed them into it.

Victor Lopez

It is not because they are more patient that the Swiss are not “tired” of their politicians…

Tomorrow, March the 7th, the Swiss people will decide many things that in other countries only politicians decide.

The Swiss will decide issues at the local, the cantonal (cantons are like states of provinces in federal countries), and also at the national level.

At the national level the Swiss tomorrow will decide if they accept the digital identity card, they will also decide if they approve a commercial treaty between Switzerland and Indonesia, and they will permit if burkas in public spaces.

The people will decide with a referendum; the three issues will be on the ballot.

For the past few months Swiss voters interested in those issues will read about the advantages and disadvantages of voting “yes” or “no”. They will read about the pros and cons of each issue. On many radio and TV programs they will also hear about the issues, they will listen and watch debates, they may even attend or take part in debates.

Many will also discuss the referendum with family, friends and co-workers.

By discussing which way to vote in the family, the children also learn of the great power and responsibility their parents have as voters, and they learn to use it themselves when they reach the age to vote; it is a level of voter power and responsibility unmatched in the World.

In quality of democracy, no other nation today comes close to the Swiss; never mind some ridiculous democracy rankings that place several representative democracies ahead of Switzerland in democratic quality.

Democracy means “rule by the people”; how can any other country be ahead in democratic quality of the only country on Earth where the people, besides having the power to elect their politicians, they also have the power to stop the politicians; yes, the Swiss people can stop the executive and parliament on any issue the people decide they should decide.

Swiss voters can kill a law approved by the Swiss parliament, they can also create laws and change the Constitution, and do not need the support or consent of the politicians.

Swiss politicians stop the Swiss people, but the Swiss people can stop the politicians. The politicians can not impose any law or policy on the people if most of the people decide to reject the law or policy.

Even if the executive and the legislative agree on an issue, their will can not prevail over the will of the Swiss people.

The people can also raise issues that must go a national referendum; the government can not stop a referendum. Much less can the Swiss government ignore the results of popular referendums; Swiss law states referendums are mandatory.

It is interesting also that the Swiss government can not call referendums or plebiscites. As you know, in some countries the government can decide to put an issue to a referendum, but does not mean the government has to obey the results.

This is the big difference between the Swiss system of direct democracy and representative “democracy” which in fact it is not democracy. Switzerland is a direct democracy because the people have more power than the elected politicians.

This is what all democracies should be, but representative democracies are not. In representative democracies it is the opposite; the politicians have much more power than the people.

So, tomorrow, the Swiss people will decide if there will be and electronic ID in Switzerland, if the Swiss will sign a trade treaty with Indonesia and if people can walk around in public with their faces covered.

That is the key reason why the Swiss are not tired of the politicians the way people in representative democracies are. They are not tired because Swiss politicians can not do things that the people do not support. If voters in representative democracies had more power than the politicians they elect, they would not be “tired” of them either; it is the power, stupid!

When we are tired of our politicians it is because the politicians do things we do not want them do, but they do them anyway.

For example, in representative democracies, politicians could sign a treaty with Indonesia, could decide that burkas are allowed in public, or could impose electronic ID, and the people have no power to stop them; other than disagree, get angry, demonstrate or become “tired of politicians”.

Ask yourself, and ask your politicians: “why can’t we, the voters, decide issues in our countries like the Swiss do? Are the Swiss special, or are we dumb?

While we stay fed up with our politicians, the Swiss people will continue to be the essential decision-makers on key issues.

The beauty of the Swiss system is that the people decide; nothing can be more democratic.

Because it is real democracy at work, the people who lose the referendums have no problem accepting the orderly, rational, decision of the majority. They do because they are democrats. For true democrats, there is no higher authority than the people. There can not be, because democracy “is rule by the people”.

Having issues decided by the people at the ballot box ensures that those who lose accept the results. It is obvious this is a much better system than politicians deciding in committees, and in secretive discussions with lobbies and pressure groups.

So, remember that the next time you get “tired” (frustrated) with your politicians; it is because they have more power than the people. It is because representative democracy is no democracy. I would not say is “fake democracy”, but I can understand it looks like that to more and more voters.

It is time to make the transition from representative “democracy” to democracy (direct democracy, the only democracy).

Victor Lopez





I reproduce a very interesting paper by Katlyn Mary Carter.

Reading the paper takes about 12 minutes. She uses a clear, easy to understand language.

She is a postdoctoral fellow at the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan. She is currently working on a book about state secrecy and the birth of representative democracy in the Age of Revolutions. Her work has appeared in French History and The Washington Post.

The paper explains very well the origins of the term “representative democracy”.

It is obvious that representative democracy was a convenient term invented to fool people into believing representative democracy is democracy, it is not.

“Representative democracy” is a political marketing term, which precedes modern political marketing, to present as democracy what is not democracy.

We should have figured out long ago that representative democracy is not democracy; all we had to do is look at the inventor of the term, none other than Robespierre, yes, the fellow of the French Revolution under whose one year rule 90 political oponents were murdered every day, for 300 days, by the mobs he led; some democracy!

Robespierre reminds me of the People’s Democratic Republics of you know who, of Hitler’s mobs, of Stalin’s gulags, of Pol Pot, of totalitarian regimes “inspired” by God.

About political marketing you can say: “there are lies, big lies and political marketing”; there is no need to say more.

I believe the article will help strengthen the transition towards democracy, to direct democracy that is, before representative “democracies” self-destroy because of their inevitable tendencies to create an elected aristocracy supported by economic and cultural elites who do not believe the people are capable of themselves with a direct democracy.

Ancient Athens and current Switzerland prove that direct democracy is the more humane system of government ever developed.

Direct democracy raises the rights and dignity of citizens far above representative democracy.

Unfortunately, the elites who rule in representative democracies, or are close to those who rule, do not want you to know about Ancient Athens or Switzerland.

They try to fool you into believing direct democracy “is bad” by saying that women and slaves could not vote in Athens, or that women in Switzerland got the right to vote later than in other Western countries.

But they do not tell you something far more important that Ancient Greece citizens had more power, orderly power, not mob power, than the elites. Women in Athens could not vote but in other places were just property; in Athens there were women in the arts, in philosophy, no other ancient society even came close.

Just check out these women :

Aspasia oif Miletus, Agnodice of Athens, Hypatia of Alexandria, Hipparchia of Marneia, Arete of Cyrene, Hydna of Scione, Telesilla of Argos, Sappho of Lesbos, and just tell me what other ancient civilisation even comes close.

Keep in mind also this was between 2400 and 2800 years ago. Anyone can see that if ancient democracy had survived women would have been voting for centuries.

They do not tell you either that right now, Swiss citizens, including women, have power than the men and women of any other country; never mind the noise feminists and other movements make in the US, France, the UK, etc. Much of that noise arises from the frustration of not having more power than the politicians.

Swiss women voters, together with Swiss men voters, have more power than the Swiss politicians in the executive and the legislative.

They have it at the local, regional (state-province) and national level. No other people on Earth, including the “progressive” Scandinavian countries, Canada or New Zealand even come close; never mind the flawed rankings of The Economist about quality of democracy.

Direct democracy is the key reason making Switzerland the most stable, most prosperous democracy humanity has developed in modern times. The power Swiss citizens have removes from politicians the power “buy” votes at election time with all sort of promises and demagoguery.

Victor Lopez
Here it is:


This post is a part of our “Challenging Democratic Revolutions” series, which explores the ways in which democratic ideologies challenged Old Regimes and how revolutionaries challenged notions of democratic liberty.

By Katlyn Marie Carter

“I know well that in a democracy, it would be the people who would judge the tyrant, because in a purely democratic state, the people do everything themselves; but what we are here [in], France is not a democracy.” [1] Jacobin Deputy Pierre-François-Joseph Robert made this claim in early 1793, amidst debate over whether the National Convention should hold a popular referendum on the judgment of King Louis XVI. Indeed, France was not a democracy by eighteenth century standards, it was something different: a representative regime. Democracy, at that point, mainly connoted a form of government exercised in ancient republics wherein the entire citizenry participated in governance. It was generally considered inapplicable in modern societies because, for one, they were too large—both in terms of population and geographic size.

Representative government was something distinct and Robert, for one, considered making it synonymous with democracy all but impossible. “There is no democracy with national representation,” he opined, “and those who wish to adapt all the principles of democratic government to a representative government are either imbeciles who disrupt without knowing it, or rogues who knowingly disrupt in the hope of not losing the fruits of anarchy.” [2]

Despite what this emphatic assertion of difference might suggest, others were beginning to think differently. The term “representative democracy” came into being in the 1790s. [3] Just a year after Robert’s statement, Maximilien Robespierre himself declared that the Revolution should aim to establish “a democratic or republican government; these two words are synonyms.” Democracy, he contended, was not “a state wherein the people continually assembled, manage all public affairs by themselves,” or even met in groups to decide the direction of society. “Democracy is a state wherein the sovereign people, guided by laws of their own making, does all that it can properly do on its own, and does by delegates all that it cannot do itself.” [4] In making such a declaration, Robespierre was redefining democracy to encompass the previously distinct form of representative government.

This eliding of terms—which intriguingly took place in both the French and English languages around the same time—has since become so naturalized that today we often fail to recognize “representative democracy” as an invention that can be traced to a particular historical moment. But blunt statements like those issued by Robert should remind us of the improbability of the emergence of this unitary concept and prompt us to interrogate anew R.R. Palmer’s characterization of the Age of Revolutions as democratic. [5] As Robespierre’s declaration highlights, what it meant for a government to be democratic was changing in this period—something many historians are recently investigating. [6] In the process, what had previously been considered crucial distinctions between representative government and democracy were deliberately papered over, generating tensions we continue to live with today. Recovering the salient differences between these concepts stands to break us out of tired debates over whether the Age of Revolutions was democratic and usefully direct our attention to investigating how and with what consequences representative government came to be considered a form of democracy.

Disaggregating the terms is a first step to identifying the tensions inherent in “representative democracy,” many of which are due to the fact that they were previously considered unique, even incompatible terms. As Paul Friedland pointed out in the French context: “Representative democracy … was from its very inception a contradiction in terms, for the basic reason that a true democracy precluded representation.” [7] Indeed, for some, political representation could not be considered a form of democracy because the latter required an active participation of the citizenry in political decision-making. On the other hand, many who advocated for the application of political representation saw it as something more than just a solution to the impossibility of applying democracy in large countries. To many, it offered particular benefits and corrected for what they considered defects of democracy. Chief among these was the need to rely on the masses and their ability to reason and determine their own best interests—an ability of which many were skeptical.

In France, political circumstances could lead to these strands of thinking appearing in unlikely places. In the midst of the king’s trial, left-leaning deputy Jean-Louis Seconds argued against consulting the people on the judgment by laying out the benefits of a representative government over democracy. “Among men equal in reason or in enlightenment, the right of every one in the direction of the government and the public good, is equal for all and as a consequence all should govern if it were possible,” he declared. However, this would only work if “an entire people could assemble and deliberate simultaneously,” and also if the government were not founded partly on “this weakness of the reason of a large number of men, on this impossibility, and on the contradiction in the government of all.” It was thus necessary to select “an elite, and a deliberative, even a guiding minority, who govern the majority” with the aim of determining “truly and really the will and reason of all.” [8] In other words, the deputies had to consider the possibility that one purpose for allowing representatives to exercise popular sovereignty was simply to guarantee better decisions made by individuals endowed with superior reason. This argument may well have been made in service of political exigency. Nonetheless, the characterization of representative government as an improvement upon democracy for this specific reason is significant and telling of an attitude that was certainly present at the time.

Across the Atlantic, James Madison saw the large size of the United States as an impetus to improve upon the concept of democracy through the introduction of representative politics. Some five years before Louis XVI went on trial, in the Federalist No.10, Madison argued that a republic—which he described as “a government in which the scheme of representation takes place”—could avoid the pitfalls of democracy by refining public views through representative institutions. “Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose,” he wrote. [9] He further argued that a large republic could increase the likelihood of this outcome by expanding the political sphere to elicit the election of “fit characters” who would have enough distance from popular pressure and factional interests to make sound decisions on behalf of the nation. In defending the utility of the Senate, Madison wrote in the Federalist No. 63 that such a body was necessary to guard against the people’s “temporary errors and delusions.” Having a body of “temperate and respectable” citizens to “check” the people until “reason, justice and truth can regain their authority over the public mind,” he suggested, was a necessary precaution. [10] Madison distinguished democracy from the government outlined in the Constitution and political representation was crucial to what made them distinct, an observation Seth Cotlar has also made. [11]

In the 1790s, as the discourse of “representative democracy” began to take hold, the salient differences between the two terms were muddled. Many of the debates we still have about representative government and how it should work bear the marks of this imperfect intellectual welding. We would do well to pay more attention to precisely how these concepts differed and were then combined if for no other reason than it might afford opportunities to re-imagine our politics today.

Katlyn Marie Carter is a postdoctoral fellow at the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan. She is currently working on a book about state secrecy and the birth of representative democracy in the Age of Revolutions. Her work has appeared in French History and The Washington Post.

Title imageLe Ci-devant roi à la barre de la Convention nationale : mardi XI décembre 1792, Louis Capet dernier roi des Français fut traduit de la tour du Temple… : [estampe] / [non identifié], 1792. 

Further Reading:

Innes, Joanna and Mark Philp. Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, and Ireland, 1750-1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Friedland, Paul. Political Actors: Representative Bodies & Theatricality in the Age of the French Revolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002.

Nelson, Dana D. Commons Democracy: Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016.

Gustafson, Sandra M. Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Smith, Barbara Clark. The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America. New York: New Press, 2010.

Wood, Gordon. The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969.


[1] Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, Volume 57: du 12 janvier 1793 au 28 janvier, 1793 (Paris: Librairie administrative de P. Dupont, 1862-1913), 316.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mark Philp, “Talking about Democracy: Britain in the 1790s,” in Joanna Innes and Mark Philp, Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, and Ireland, 1750-1850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 101-113; Ruth Scurr, “Varieties of Democracy in the French Revolution,” in Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions, pp. 57-68.

[4] Maximilien Robespierre, “Sur les Principes de Morale Politique qui Doivent Guider la Convention Nationale dans l’Administration Intérieure de la République,” in Robespierre: Textes Choisis, Tome Troisième, aout 1793-juillet 1794, ed. Jean Poperen (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1958) pp.110-131, 113. This passage is also cited in: William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 272; Scurr, “Varieties of Democracy in the French Revolution, 66-67.

[5] R.R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution: a political history of Europe and America; 1760-1800 , 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959-1964).

[6] Seth Cotlar, “Languages of Democracy in America from the Revolution to the Election of 1800,” in Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions, pp. 13-27; Matthew Rainbow Hale, “Regenerating the World: The French Revolution, Civic Festivals, and the Forging of Modern American Democracy, 1793-1795,” Journal of American History, Vol. 103, No. 4 (March 2017), pp. 891-920; Dana Nelson, Commons Democracy: Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016).

[6] Paul Friedland, Political Actors: Representative Bodies & Theatricality in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), 11.

[8]  Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, Volume 56: du 29 décembre 1792 au 11 janvier 1793 (Paris: Librairie administrative de P. Dupont, 1862-1913), 561.

[9] Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, ed. Ian Shapiro (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 51.

[10] Ibid., 320.

[11] Cotlar, “Languages of Democracy in America from the Revolution to the Election of 1800,” 20-21.

Are you fed up with politician’s fighting and not doing want you want? There is a better way!

If you live in a representative democracy, you may be “fed up” with most politicians, I am.

The problem is not “the politicians”, the problem is us, the citizens, because representative democracy pushes politicians to behave the way they do. Most of us do not know there is a better democracy; direct democracy, it fixes representative democracy.

The root problem with representative democracy is that it gives politicians more power than the power they need to govern, we have to take their excess power away. Because representative democracies give politicians all that power, politicians also fight like hell to get it.

The fight starts as soon as one electoral campaign is over, the next one starts in the very first session of the new legislature, in the first interviews and statements.

The party who wins governs with both eyes focused in the next election, not the concerns of the people; “what can we do?, what can we get away with?, from now to the next election?”. For the parties in the opposition it is about “what do we do to win the next election?”; the mirror image of the party in power.

This antagonism among politicians filters down to their supporters and to the nation, through the media, who also become contaminated by the antagonism.

The problem affects all representative democracies; they split themselves into “progressives” or “conservatives”.

People on either side can not comprehend the other. They see each other as “fanatical”, “egotistic”, “foolish”, “naïve”, “not for the people”, even “evil”; not very good.

This division also fosters the growth of parties with extreme views on the Right and the Left. This weakens society even more.

Another harmful effect of the power representative democracy gives politicians is that politicians govern less and less for ordinary voters; they govern more for the lobbies who help them win elections, or get them juicy jobs in corporations and institutions once they leave politics, etc. The inevitable result of this situation is that voters, gradually, become more disenchanted with representative democracy. But that may be good if it helps them look at direct democracy as the practical alternative.

Direct democracy solves these problems because it turns power around; it gives the people direct power over the politicians. In a direct democracy the politicians have to do what the people want, they have no choice.

This forces politicians in government and the opposition to cooperate; unheard of, right? They know that otherwise the people will stop the law, the policy, the budget, anything the politicians want to do.

When they cooperate, politicians can no longer be at each other’s throats either, politics becomes civil again. This also decreases the political temperature among voters and in the media.

A new perspective also develops in society; issues, policies, laws, etc., are now seen as concrete problems to resolve, not as another opportunity to savage rivals, make grandiose statements about “dreams”, “happiness”, “mission”, “prosperity”, “the future of our children”, etc., that sound great, but are mostly hot air.

The US is the prime example of polarization in a representative democracy, but other representative democracies, such as France, the UK, Germany, Canada, etc., would greatly benefit from direct democracy too. Practically all representative democracies suffer from degrees of polarization that weaken those societies.

In a direct democracy people also trust their politicians more. It is because the politicians can not afford to “forget” the voters because the voters can step in at any time, they do not need to wait for the next election.

Conclusion: the antagonistic politicians and politics you have in your country are the product of representative democracy, the root problem is representative democracy, the politician’s never-ending fighting in parliament and the media  are just the symptoms.

Do not blame the politicians, or the voters “of the other party” for electing “their” politicians; it is us, all voters of all parties, that are to blame for not pushing for direct democracy.

How do we know direct democracy dials down the political temperature and fosters cooperation among rival parties?; because that is what happens, decade after decade, after decade in Switzerland, under direct democracy, at the local, regional and national levels.

Do not believe me? I understand; just go to internet and search “direct democracy” or “Swiss direct democracy”, that is what I did. Soon it became obvious to me direct democracy is the way forward for democracy. I believe you will reach the same conclusion, perhaps you already have. Let us spread awareness of direct democracy in our countries!.

Victor Lopez

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